I was about eight during a New Jersey summer and my Mom, siblings, and I were at the local swim club enjoying the day. I remember seeing a uniformed Air Force person come running in, talk to the manager, and then run out. Suddenly everyone was grabbing lawn chairs and stashing them in the locker rooms. Apparently a hurricane that was off the coast had suddenly turned inland. The weather alert system in 1964 was not what it is now. McGuire Air Force Base (about 15 miles away) scrambled people to alert certain venues in the area.
We quickly went home, told our neighbors, and secured things around our yard. I do not recall the category of the storm, most likely a 1 or 2, but I remember the rain and the wind howling outside our basement windows. Then everything went quiet. Heading upstairs, and then outside, we realized that we were in the eye of the storm. Blue skies and calm air gave no indication of the second part of the storm that was coming. We cleaned up some things in the yard, and then the clouds came back and the wind picked up and we headed back to the basement. I think my Mom did a nice job of not letting us know how concerned she was as we played board games in the basement.
There is a sense in which life with COVID brings those feelings back to me again. The first part of the storm hit our elders in particular, across our country and the world. The roll out of the vaccine has felt a bit like the eye of the storm passing over. Infection rates dropped, we altered certain processes, opened up things again. We are now (not locally yet) seeing the clouds gather and the wind pick up a bit around the country. Infection rates are increasing. I heard a statistic that indicated the average age of those testing positive was 35. Younger people are being hospitalized.
Some of this means that the vaccines are effective and safe, given that it is the age group not yet vaccinated that is testing positive. Some of it seems to imply we may have to take cover again if we do not continue our safest behavior. Being safe has allowed our elders to visit with their families again. Being safe has allowed activities and other forms of community to happen. We owe it to the living out of our mission for the sake of others to act and live with care. Only then will the eye of the storm turn into its passing. Truth be told, I long for the moment I get to say, “Breathe again. The storm has passed.”